Some people will die but their legacies will live forever. One such man is Steve Jobs. He is the father of microcomputer revolution as well as the co-founder of Apple Company that boosts of iPhones and iPods, two products that really make our lives worthwhile.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future” This is one of my favourite quotes from Steve Jobs.
Some of you from Kenya know about my career movement, from the mainstream media into Public Relations. From the Private Sector into Public Service/ Government. The truth is, all the time I made these moves, I wasn’t really sure of what the future holds. I only hoped that somehow, the dots will connect in my future. Until now, I am not sure whether to call myself a Journalist or a Public Relations Practitioner or both? I love and understand both worlds and I like that both worlds intermarry.
A small talk between one of my immediate former bosses along the corridors of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights would be the start of my Chevening Journey. It went like this.
Boss: So, what’s your 5 year plan? What’s your game plan after here?
Me: Mmm! I am sure about one thing. I would like to go back to school, not for a PhD but for a Master’s degree. I don’t know when but I know it won’t be in this country.
Boss: Interesting. How do you plan to go about it?
Me: To be honest, I haven’t given it much of a thought. I just want someone else to pay for it.
Boss: There are a number of scholarships. Check out Chevening Scholarships.
Me: Cheve……..what?Never heard of it before.
Boss: Is it? Chevening Scholarship (spelled with a C..H..E) is under the British Government. It could actually be what you need. It is more than an academic scholarship. It’s about moulding your leadership journey. It will be of real benefit to you.
Me: Oh… interesting. Never heard of Chevening. Did I pronounce it right? I ask.
We do our chitchat and five minutes later I am in the office, goggling about Chevening Scholarship. I spend my initial time, bookmarking everything under Chevening.
Back to Steve Jobs, before I introduce another human being that I truly adore. From Steve Job’s lesson on connecting our dots backwards. Here is my life experience. If this specific boss never introduced me to Chevening, there is a very high probability, I wouldn’t have known about it. If I didn’t make it to the KNCHR, there is every possibility I wouldn’t have met this particular boss.
Chimamanda Ngozi, the Nigeria writer is a woman I truly love. The author of the famous manuscript “Why we should all be feminists”. She’s also the author of “the danger of a single story”. In my entire life, I had a belief that only those from extremely needy backgrounds will qualify for Scholarships. I have been working for the last decade plus, so I believed I wouldn’t qualify unless I had to cook stories to justify my case.
Me to my boss: So tell me, what do I need to say during the application? I really don’t want to appear before a panel to tell lies. I know I might not afford the kind of education I am looking for abroad, but honestly I am not so desperate.
Boss: But why should you tell lies? Chevening is not interested in whether you can afford a meal or not. They are only concerned about your leadership journey and what you bring back to your country after your one year sojourn in the United Kingdom.
Wow! Imagine that Eureka moment. Oh….So I could actually get sponsored to study abroad even if I had a monthly paycheck.
6 months later. We are in the process of carrying out our appraisals. It includes a section on Personal Development. In my response I say- I intend to go back to school, so I will apply for Chevening Scholarship. After submitting my appraisal to my immediate boss Ms. Kagwiria Mbogori, it came back with her feedback. On the Chevening plan she responded- APPROVED and encouraged. I read her feedback and right there, I started my journey of faith. I believed I was going to make it for the Chevening Scholarship. My suffering from the danger of a single story was buried!
The application process.
There are 4 essay questions that require you to use illustrative examples to support your answers. I will attempt to explain how I understood the questions and how I crafted my responses.
- Leadership and Influence
Chevening is looking for individuals who will be future leaders or influencers in their home countries. Explain how you meet this requirement, using clear examples of your own leadership and influencing skills to support your answer.
This is a very simple question if you ask me. In less than 500 words, Chevening is asking you to use your own examples to highlight your leadership trajectory. Where have you been? Where are you now and what do you see yourself becoming? Do you have a clear plan of your leadership journey?
On this question, I highlighted all my leadership experiences. You see, I was a prefect all through my primary and high school years. I was also appointed a head girl. Then, I was also a residential assistant during my undergraduate years. Since then, I have held other leadership and positions of influence. I put all these into writing. So don’t ignore even the mundane examples. Do you remember how much power prefects welded? Think of the perks that came with the positions. Think about getting extra two packets of Nyayo milk just because you were a class prefect? Wasn’t that leadership and its trappings of power?
Chevening is looking for individuals with strong professional relationship building skills, who will engage with the Chevening community and influence and lead others in their chosen profession. Please explain how you build and maintain relationships in a professional capacity, using clear examples of how you currently do this, and outline how you hope to use these skills in the future.
How big is your network base? How many people can you influence? Can you be part of a bigger Chevening Community? The school life is only for a year, but you will be a Chevener for a lifetime. Which spaces can you bring the greatest change? Again, use your practical experience. While my friends make fun of me being an Admin of 101 chat groups, they do not know that I used this as an example. Come of think of how much power WhatsApp Admins have? I used examples of how I add and left people if they do not follow stipulated rules. Imagine if all the WhatsApp groups were a real constituency or even a voting block? I would a Governor by now. Jokes aside, the idea is, illustrate your professional relationship building skills. Use real examples that work for you.
3.Studying in the UK
Outline why you have selected your chosen three university courses, and explain how this relates to your previous academic or professional experience and your plans for the future. Please do not duplicate the information you have entered on the work experience and education section of this form.
Figure out the kind of course you would like to pursue. Check out the Universities in the UK and list down all the universities that match your course of interest. List as many as you can, then sort them out in order of priority. Be sure about your number one choice because Chevening will most likely sponsor your 1st choice. Chevening and School application process are two different applications altogether. Treat them as such. In your essay, be sure to explain why you think these 3 courses are important to you. Relate them to your undergraduate course. Remember, its three courses with a similar course title at three different universities OR three different courses at the same institution.
You do not have to do the English test at this time.
4. Career Plan
Chevening is looking for individuals who have a clear post-study career plan. Please outline your immediate plans upon returning home and your longer term career goals. You may wish to consider how these relate to what the UK government is doing in your country.
I have received so many requests from people who want me to review their essays. I will. I realise it’s a lot of work but I am dedicating my time to do so. Please do me a favour. Kindly go through the UK Government Website and their Social Media handles to familiarise yourself with the UK Government in your home country. Align your choice to a course that is dear to the UK Government. On my Facebook page, I have been sharing links from the UK in Kenya page, check them out. Two, Chevening requires you to return to your home country after your classes. So those who wish to continue perambulating around, Chevening is not your kind of a Scholarship. So you must have a clear career plan past your one year in the UK.
Launched 36 years ago, Chevening aims at bringing exceptional individuals from around the world to study in the UK. It unites students with world-leading UK universities, helping them to develop their potential as future leaders in their chosen fields.
“The Chevening programme has grown over the years. This year alone, 1,750 great students from 141 countries and territories will be in 117 top UK universities. Graduates of the scheme have gone on to glittering careers. The first Chevening alumnus to become Prime Minister of their country was Rinchinnyam Amarjagal in Mongolia in 1999, and he has been followed by many more.” Remarked Paul Brummel, the Head of Soft Power and External Affairs Department, Communication Directorate during the 2019 Orientation ceremony held in Excel in London last weekend.
On her part, Rita French, Ambassador for Human Rights and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva said, “You are all Global leaders. In here, we have future Presidents, Vice Presidents, Prime Ministers, Cabinet Secretaries, Ambassadors and Governors. There is great potential in each one of you. This is your time to challenge your assumptions and create a new beginning. You are crafting your legacy. The time is now.”
Indeed. What a better way to sum it all. We are part of a global movement, of global leaders and change makers. I am a member! Now, go back and finalise on your essays, then click submit. I wish you all the very best in your application. In 2019, there were 50,000 applicants globally. Only 1,750 made it. It could be you, next!
“Chevening Alumni are leaders and innovators, who are breaking boundaries across a variety of professional fields, including politics, business, the media, civil society, science and technology, and academia.”
It’s a month now since I started my classes. Next Monday, I will give you a glimpse of my course work and my thoughts around International Public Relations and Global Communication Management. Some of you just call us “You PR People.” A clear indication, that many people have no clue on what PR entails. It’s funny. See you then.
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